What makes Mona Lisa smile? Investigating a halo model of configural face effects

  • Armando M. Oliveira
  • Ana Duarte Silva
  • Nuno Sá Teixeira
  • Ricardo G. Viegas


Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is often celebrated for her enigmatic expression, somewhere in between happy and sad. Changes in Mona Lisa’s mouth (by superimposing noise on it) have been shown to affect separate ratings of the eyes regarding their happy or sad character, despite these being physically unaltered. Like many other configural face effects, this one has been taken at face value as illustrating a mouth-eyes interaction. The present study investigates an alternative explanation based on the weighted averaging halo model of IIT (Anderson, 1981), which assumes no interaction among components.

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